Free plants are readily available with just a little effort.
Taking advantage of an unusually warm day in March, yesterday I spent the entire day, cleaning off beds, pulling weeds, trimming herbs and just generally puttering around in the potager. Cutting back a lavender plant, I was pleased to see it survived the winter very well. I don’t recall the variety, but it must be hardy and worthy of propagation. I took five tender stems about 4 – 5-inches in length, stripped the leaves from the lower two-thirds and put it in moist potting mix with added moisture crystals. Off to the green house to join the rest of my free plants. Taking a quick inventory, I counted 3 rosemary, 6 thyme, 1 Peggy martin Rose, 5 Knock-Out Roses, 2 Crepe Myrtles, and 20 geraniums, all from cuttings last fall.
Cuttings are quite an easy way to increase a plant collection. I take tender stems from healthy plants, strip the bottom leaves, dip it in rooting hormone and stick them in moist Pro Mix (which I buy by the bale). Okay, the plants aren’t totally free. I mix moisture crystals into the potting mix to insure the stems do not dry out. I place the cuttings in a shelter spot out of direct sun. After roots are formed I move the plants to a sunny location and fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a diluted water soluble fertilizer (like fish emulsion or Miracle Grow.) You don’t need a greenhouse for cuttings. For several years geranium cuttings have over wintered in the window sills of my basement.
Two other sources for free plants are division and seed collecting. I have ferns and chrysanthemums from my mother-in-law, iris and cannas from a neighbor and my eyes are set on some gorgeous hostas in a friend’s garden. I have just begun to collect seeds. My one success is poppies. I collected seeds from zinnias last fall and will know in a few weeks if they will germinate.
Quite often I have more plants than I have room for in my potager, either from cuttings, overzealous seed starting or division. Tossing healthy plants into the landfill is simply not an option. First I offer them to friends and co-workers. But it isn’t unusual to drive by my house and see plants by the curb with a free sign. Now that I am blogging I will post a list of the free plants I currently have available. Hopefully some local gardeners will read my blog and can use the freebies. I have no problem bribing folks to read my blog!